Switching component video sources is a double-edged sword. For a number of reasons, there's plenty of need for it; however, until recently, it was fairly expensive to do it well (read: without adversely affecting the video signal). Still, there are a number of scenarios in which video switching, transcoding, or distributing high-resolution video (particularly HDTV signals) is important.
For those who stream video from online sources, the speed at which data can be sent into their home is critical. If your connection isn't fast enough, streaming video can sometimes stall as it fills the buffer in the receiving device, or the content provider might send a lower-quality stream because it senses that your available speed can't handle anything more. So how much speed do you need?
Getting the most out of your big-screen experience.
When it comes to setting up a great video projection system in your home theater, the screen is nearly as important as the projector. A white wall or sheet simply won’t do, except in a pinch as a temporary stopgap. There’s no substitute for the real thing.
But choosing the right real thing requires research, together with examination of your individual needs. How tightly can you control the room lighting? How big do you want the image to be? What shape screen do you want—that is, what aspect ratio—and do you want a screen that can mask off the unused portions when the source is a different aspect? Can the screen have a fixed frame, or do you want it to be retractable? How much gain should the screen have? Which screen will best match your projector? And last but not least, how will 3D affect all of these other considerations?
If you want the best possible video and audio experience in your home theater, there is no better source than Blu-ray Discsin fact, nothing else equals the super-sharp video and awesome audio you get from Blu-ray. But I get many questions about how to connect a Blu-ray player for optimum performance, so I thought I'd spell it out here. (Don't be intimidated by the diagram above; it shows lots of possible connections between lots of home-theater devices. This article covers only the connections between the Blu-ray player in the center, A/V receiver on the left, and TV at the top.)
If you’re in search of the perfect music station, with a little dedication and patience, you can customize Pandora. For the uninitiated, Pandora is a free online music-streaming service. Unlike other “free” online music services, it can be streamed to smartphones, tablets, TVs, media-streaming devices, and more without a premium subscription fee.
Streaming media from online sources provides a huge variety of movies, TV shows, and music that can be rented or watched for free. Still, you may have downloaded movies and music and stored them on your computer as well. Your media libraries may be filled with movies, TV shows, music that you ripped from CDs, and/or digital photos you've taken yourself.
It’s a given that most readers of Home Theater are that guy—the one friends and family call when they need a new HDTV. But it doesn’t stop there. Because after your 82-year-old grandmother finally tosses out that old Sylvania console and buys a 52-inch LCD on your expert recommendation, you still have to help with the picture settings. We can’t have nana blowing out her sensitive retinas on the factory torch mode, now can we? Oh, what those eyes have seen...
Feeding the Beast and Chasing Its Gremlins : A basic guide for harnessing AC power.
There's absolutely nothing worse than putting together an awesome home theater system that's starved for power or buzzing with ground loops. We often take electricity for granted, assuming it will be there when we need it. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. You don't necessarily need an electrician just to connect your audio and video system, but you may need to check out your electrical system before you spend hours, if not days, connecting all your components. The two things you should consider are whether your system is getting enough power and if your components are connected to that power system correctly.
Editor makes stupid grounding mistakes and pays with fried gear.
Those of you who have installed your own satellite systems have seen RG-6 coaxial cable with a second wire attached to the outside. I can't speak for the rest of you, but I know I never paid a whole lot of attention to that second wire. Sure, it was handy for tying the cable to stuff and so on, but, frankly, who really gives it a whole lot of thought? Even our detail-oriented (PC for anal retentive) technical editor Mike Wood admits he's never found much need for it, either. That is, until he heard my tale of woe.
Oh for the simplicity of days of yore, when a home-entertainment system came entombed in a massive slab of French Provincial furniture, with the television tube in the middle and built-in loudspeakers flanking it on either side. There was little decision-making as to speaker placement, usually boiling down to which wall of the living room was equipped with the twin-lead connection to the aerial on the roof. With this simplicity and lack of flexibility, there was little one could do wrong (or right, for that matter) in terms of speaker placement.
The world's most complete guide to DVD-player features.
If you're thinking of buying a DVD player, the number of features most players offer might overwhelm you. Sure, you know the basics: DVD is the hottest thing since the first time man invented something round. It consists of a disc the size of an audio CD but with 10 to 15 times more storage capacity. The disc has enough room to store a full-length motion picture with a digital picture that's better than that of laserdisc or satellite broadcasts. A progressive-scan DVD player connected to a widescreen TV can even approach the quality of high-definition television. The digital audio can include up to five full-range, discrete (meaning separate) channels with one LFE, or low-frequency-effects (aka the .1), channel for impact. The best part is that DVD players and movies should be compatible with your current system, no matter how archaic it is. You can buy a DVD player now and almost certainly enjoy the benefits right away, and you can upgrade various parts of your system and glean even more performance from the DVD software that you'll undoubtedly start collecting. What you really want to know, though, is what features to look for in your first/next DVD-player purchase. As usual, we're here to explain them to you. We've also included a couple of tips on how you can take your DVD/home theater experience to the next level.
One man's quest for the ultimate Super Bowl party included HDTV in every room.
It started out innocently enough, back in January 2000. ABC had concluded a season of Monday Night Football broadcasts in their 720p HDTV format and was putting the icing on the cake with an HD telecast of Super Bowl XXXIV from Atlanta, Georgia. Since I had watched a few of the MNF games in HD, I decided to set up a front projector and an HD monitor and invite some friends and neighbors over to give 'em a taste of sports in high definition. The game turned out to be a big hit. Over 30 folks attended and marveled at the widescreen images from my Sony VPL-VW10HT projector and Princeton AF3.0HD monitor. Never mind that I had to jury-rig an antenna on my rear deck and run coaxial cable into my basement to feed a single Panasonic set-top tuner, then use a video-distribution amplifier to run two component video feeds into my living room and my basement theater. Everyone was amazed at the picture quality and gorged themselves on a feast of wings, subs, pizza, chips, dip, and assorted desserts.